The Top 17 Strategies for Out-Negotiating Anyone

Experienced negotiators have learnt over the years the skills and attitude to conduct and secure a good result when negotiating. You can also apply these basic skills for your own negotiations to achieve the outcome you are looking for.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Keep honest and real.
    It’s important to be honest in negotiations because life goes on after the discussions.  Parties involved in negotiations often find that their business relationship continues well after negotiations have been completed.  If you lie and you are later found out (which is always the case) then your future credibility can be lost.

  2. Preparation - Prepare well
    Preparing properly is the single most important thing you must do if you are to be successful when negotiating. The more accurate your information, the stronger your position will be.  There is no such thing as over-preparation. Take the time to prepare well before you go into the negotiating meeting.

  3. Don’t be manipulative.
    Don’t be foolish and use manipulative antics. They don’t work. Be upfront and open with the other party at all times.  Be yourself. Show your presentation as being that of a calm, logical, unemotional person. 

  4. What does your opponent really want?
    If you can, find out what the other party in the negotiation wants to achieve.  Don’t argue, because that fuels conflict and strife. Finding out exactly what your opponents wants is very important. It may be that things have been blown out of all proportions and a simple agreement on a couple of issues is all that is needed to arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome that saves everyone unnecessary headache and stress.  Learn to give and take. Hear the other side’s point of view. Once you are clear about what the other party wants finding that middle ground may be quite easy.

  5. Keep your cards to yourself
    Always play the negotiation close to your chest.  Be cool. Be unruffled. Retain your confident air at all times. Keep the other side guessing if necessary. Uncertainty can be your greatest advantage.  If your adversary knows what you desire the most, then your negotiation position will be weakened. Keep your options and cards close. Use a good poker face.

  6. What if you were in their shoes?
    Try and get into the mind of your opponent. See if you can ascertain the things they wish to gain from the negotiation.  Prioritise your list of desired outcomes in the order you believe your candidate wants. This will identify the items that are not negotiable as well as those you are prepared to concede to arrive at a win-win for you both.

  7. Be clear on the desired outcome.
    Be clear about the outcome you wish to achieve.  Are you looking for more money, or access to other markets, or a bigger sales order?  Make a list of all the things you want to achieve in order of priority.  If necessary, put them on to a list with the main result you wish to achieve firmly at the top.  It may mean the items you have at the lower end of the list are those that you are willing to release or negotiate, while numbers 1 or 2 on your list would by firm and not negotiable.

  8. Bolster your case.
    Try and isolate the areas where your product or your service is weak.  Always strengthen your case, if at all possible  Be prepared with other options should problems arise that you had not anticipated.

  9. Be fair.
    A good negotiation is not an “I win you lose” type of proposition.  The best negotiators know how to create a win-win situation in every discussion.  Reinforce your commitment to arriving at a fair and reasonable outcome. The other party will see this and respond accordingly.

  10. What are your priorities?
    Always focus on the priorities.  Conflict arises from disagreement. Sometimes it is a necessary part of the negotiating process. Conflict is always a “give and get” issue in negotiations, so do focus on your priorities because the other party will be focusing on theirs.

  11. Try not to compete.
    It’s easy to get caught in a competitive spirit when negotiating.  The whole point of negotiation is to reach a common agreement on how you can both move forward.  While it is possible to at times to bludgeon your opponent into agreeing to your terms, this does not create a mutual agreement that makes a negotiation successful for everyone.  Some people can be very competitive, so leave your competitive spirit at the door.

  12. Be diplomatic.
    Be tactful. Make it your personal goal when you are engaging in negotiations to “save face” on behalf of the other party. That is, allow an option or open door for the other party to save face gracefully without making it obvious. 

  13. Take short breaks during negotiation.
    If you reach an impasse - take a break.  It’s best to make small concessions and offer to meet the other party half-way rather than hold out for something that is not an advantage to the other party.  Suggest solutions to facilitate moving the discussion forward.  Avoid being adversarial. If you both hit a brick wall take a break and get some fresh air. You may both see things differently after a cup of coffee.

  14. Find solutions.
    Negotiations involve compromise.  Look for creative solutions to the problems, rather than always being negative and wanting to win.  If necessary, a trade-off may be required to gain some of the elements you most desire.  The loss of elements that you could release may not affect you at all, but could be the winning hand as far as your opponent is concerned.  Listen to the other party and keep open-minded on all things, including the deals offered.

  15. Know when to finish. 
    Never be impatient.  Don’t press too quickly for closure.  Allow some quiet reflection so everyone can consider what is on the table, and when you do conclude, hold your ground and do it pleasantly.

  16. Recap and confirm
    Once you have reached anagreement, summarise it and conclude it with a positive statement about the agreement and an expression of your appreciation. Always recap and summarise, so both parties know where they are at.  Verbal agreements should always be confirmed in writing, because people do tend to forget some of the things agreed to.

  17. Stop once the goal is met.
    Too many people want to see how far they can push the bar in a negotiation.  They try to get just one more concession out of the other party.  This attitude can actually break a deal. The best negotiations are brief and to the point with agreement on major points settled quickly.  Once this is done – stop.  It is good to stop once the goal is achieved.

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